Wednesday, March 25, 2009

stranger in a strange land

Panopticon raises an issue that has been coming up for me a lot lately. I can think more incidents than I'd like to where different realities have collided or even just bumped into one another, and where no clear interface or connection could be found. I've recently experienced and/or heard about heartbreaking situations where two or more people come from such different spaces that their words, instead of connecting people, hold them apart at worst or simply fail to convey a shared meaning at best.

We each of us create our own life stories, our narratives, our mythologies. We create them out of our familial and social and all sorts of other contexts. They give us something to structure our lives by, and to use as a framework for interpreting and understanding the world around us. It's not always easy to see what those frameworks are and even when we do, we can't always work with someone else's. We can see why the gaps, we can even see how they got to be there, but even then we can't always bridge them.

And just as I'm about to be overwhelmed by it all (how can we achieve world peace when we can't bridge gaps between friends, family, colleagues, two strangers on a train?) I'm reminded of that truism: we all live alone, together. So, I'm not alone in feeling disconnected at times: others feel that lack of connection too. I'll bet that most of the time when I'm feeling disconnected from someone or a group of someones I'm interacting with, one or more of them feels the same way and like me, they are puzzled or even frustrated by it and maybe sometimes we each feel saddened or even angered by it. Maybe I can't always bridge the gaps between me and the people I meet or even all the people I love, but I can try to make experiencing those gaps less stressful by remembering I'm not alone in experiencing it. That others do too and are probably having very similar reactions to it. Maybe I can help ease the discomfort that sometimes arises when those gaps become visible by recognizing my personal narrative is but one reality at play, and if can behave with right speech and right action, it'll be less painful, less discomforting. And maybe I can simply just recognize why sometimes I succumb to my own narrative and in recognizing how that happened, I can learn more about how to disentangle myself from my own stories.

The problem is, I'm not very good at right speech or right action, I'm very much a novice. But Panopticon's post came to me when I needed the reminder that I'm not alone in this the most. It resonated with me, reminded me to strive for right speech and right action.

And for that, I am grateful to him. Thank you, Franklin, for your words and for being there and for sharing yourself and for creating a space where people can connect. You make a difference.



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